Tanzania establishes its National Carbon Monitoring Centre (NCMC)

Introduction and Background

Tanzania is a member state of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) established in 1992. This convention calls on member states to reduce Green House Gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere which are source of climate change. The GHGs include Carbon dioxide, Methane, Nitrous oxide, Hydrofluorocarbons, Perfluorocarbons and Sulfur hexafluoride. Accumulation of these gases in the atmosphere is caused by various economic activities in the sectors of Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF), Agriculture, Energy, Industry Processes and Products Use (IPPU), and Waste Management. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Carbon dioxide gas contributes between 70 – 80 % among the GHGs in the atmosphere. The effects of climate change include increased drought and frequent floods, food and water shortages, spread of infectious diseases such as Malaria and Rift Valley Fever (RVF), melting of Ice on high mountain such Mt. Kilimanjaro and on the Earth Poles as well as disappearing of small islands. There are national and international efforts to address climate change. One of these initiatives is carbon trading. Forest carbon trading is possible through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol of the UNFCCC where afforestation and reforestation activities are permitted.

Forests absorb and store carbon dioxide. However, forests can be destroyed and cause emission of Carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, resulting in an increase in GHGs. So conserving forest and planting trees is among the acceptable ways to mitigate climate change. Tanzania is endowed with 48.1 million hectares of forest which is about 55% of the total terrestrial area of the country. However, Tanzania loses 469,420 hectares of forests per year due to various human activities.

Despite having a large forest area, Tanzania did not get CDM project for planting trees under the Kyoto Protocol due to lack of expertise and technology. However, through the Paris Agreement of December 2015, the conservation of natural forests has been officially recognized by UNFCCC member states to be a new policy to address climate change. This policy is termed as Reduced Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, the role of Conservation, Sustainable Management of Forest and Enhancement of Carbon Stock (REDD+).

Tanzania has the opportunity to benefit from the implementation of REDD+ and other emerging policies. The benefits of participating in REDD+ include enhancing forest management in the country, the possibility of earning money from various sources such as the Green Climate Fund – GCF, Carbon Fund and Forest Carbon Partnership Facility – FCPF. In addition, participation in REDD + will bring technology, equipment, capacity building and the implementation of GHGs reduction and economic growth projects. However, in order for the country to participate in REDD+ mechanism it must fulfil the following:
i. Develop the National REDD+ Strategy and Action Plan;
ii. Develop Forest Reference Emission Level-FREL;
iii. Establish a comprehensive Measurement, Reporting and Verification – MRV System;
iv. Establish REDD + Safeguard Information System; and
v. Develop National REDD + Payment Mechanism.

In April 2008, Norway and Tanzania signed a Letter of Intent on a Climate Change Partnership; with a focus to support Tanzania on its REDD+ redness process. The two countries agreed to cooperate for five years (2008-2013) on climate change and REDD+ and Norway committed itself to support the cooperation with up to US$ 100 million for the period. During the REDD+ readiness process Tanzania:
• Prepared the National Framework for REDD+;
• Prepared the National REDD+ Strategy and Action Plan;
• Conducted research and capacity building in support of REDD+ (CCIAM Programme);
• Carried out nine REDD+ pilot project; and
• Raised awareness in REDD+ to different stakeholders.

The Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation & Mitigation (CCIAM) Programme was implemented between year 2009 and 2015 with the support from Norway. The objective of this programme was to conduct research and capacity building in support of REDD+ process in Tanzania. Sokoine University of Agriculture was the lead institution in this programme. The three partner institutions in Tanzania were Ardhi University (ARU), University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) and Tanzania Metrological Authority (TMA). There were also partner institutions from Norway. Among others, this programme carried out research on REDD+, trained students at PhD and Msc levels and build a climate change modelling laboratory where the National Carbon Monitoring Centre (NCMC) is now hosted.

However, Tanzania did not complete its REDD+ redness process, there were still some pending issues regarding establishment of MRV system and determination of Forest Reference Emission Level-FREL. In order to establish this system, it was agreed to establish the National Carbon Monitoring Center (NCMC). The idea of establishment of NCMC first appeared in the National Framework for REDD+ of 2009 and after three years that is in 2012, writing up of the project document on establishing NCMC started. Many institutions expressed interest to host the NCMC but through a competitive process in 2013, SUA was announced by the government to be the host institution for NCMC. This was due to SUA’s competence on environmental issues in particular forest management and climate change. In July 2014, the Memorandum of Understanding between the Vice President’s Office (VPO) and SUA on the establishment of NCMC was signed. The implementation of the project on “establishment of NCMC of Tanzania” started on 1 January 2016 following a support of about US$ 4.2 million from the government of the Kingdom of Norway.

The NCMC establishment project was implemented by a secretariat within SUA and on March 3rd 2019, NCMC Interim Board was appointed by the Vice-Chancellor SUA in consultation with the Permanent Secretary of the VPO. The NCMC interim Board meeting held on 13th May 2019 recommended that for effective and successful implementation of its goals, objectives and functions; NCMC will need to strengthen its structure and operation mechanisms through legal establishment under the Sokoine University of Agriculture Charter. NCMC is now a defined entity at SUA with its mandate outlined in Section 3 of the MOU between SUA and VPO signed in November 2020. However, NCMC still maintain its original purpose of supporting VPO on building national technical capacity on measuring, verification and adequately reporting on GHGs at national and international levels. NCMC under SUA is still maintaining its strong link to VPO through a co-chair of the NCMC Board.